If you’re not in software development, you may not be familiar with an agile software development framework called scrum. Scrum is an alternative to the traditional waterfall approach and attempts to simplify complex projects by structuring them in short cycles of work called sprints. Each sprint is based on prioritized customer requirements such that the highest value features are developed first. When done correctly, each sprint could be delivered to customers, dramatically shortening the time that customers consume innovation.
Like performance management methodologies, software development techniques can be overhyped and sometimes ignore the fact that people are often more important than processes. As a result, I was really glad to see Matthew Laudato apply MBWA techniques to agile development and coin the term Scrum By Walking Around. In his words:
As you visit each engineer, ask them how they feel the new methodology is going, and take lots of mental notes. Then spend a minute reinforcing the key goals of scrum: accountability to commitments, visible progress measures, and short term rigidity combined with long term flexibility. Later, after the scrum is over but before everyone leaves the room, share the concerns that you’ve gathered privately from your walkaround, and get everyone to agree on a plan of action to address the issues. Chances are that there are a few common concerns that everyone has. By getting these out in the open, it signals to the team that you’re responsive to them, and not just another pointy-haired paper-pushing process wonk.
While Matthew is talking about agile software development, this is performance management at its best. Set clear goals with outcome measures. Ensure understanding and accountability to the outcomes. Provide visibility to key initiatives required. And focus on the people, not just the process.
Scrum strives for simplicity. Scrum is customer focused. Scrum supports performance management. Maybe I could try a marketing scrum?
Jonathan, it’s good to see that there are others out there who ‘get’ MBWA. Applying it to Scrum felt like a natural extension of MBWA. There really is no substitute for private or semi-private interaction with your team, no matter which process you happen to follow.
I have published a very comprehensive article on MBWA. The article highlights the importance of MBWA and how it creates this bond between the manager and the employees.